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Overview

  • Country Overview

    Positioned on the Atlantic Ocean at the westernmost point of the Sahel, Senegal surrounds its much smaller neighbor, Gambia, and borders Guinea, Mali, and Mauritania. It has a population of at least 15.4 million (2016), about a quarter of it concentrated around the capital of Dakar, and up to half in other urban areas. Senegal is one of West Africa's key economic hubs.

    Political Context

    Senegal is also one of the most stable countries in Africa; it has had just three major political transitions, each of them peaceful, since its independence from France in 1960. Its serving president, Macky Sall, was elected in March 2012, and in 2016, a constitutional referendum cut presidential mandates from seven to five years. Parliamentary elections were held in July 2017, when the ruling coalition Benno Bokk Yakaar party (“United in Hope" in the widely-spoken Wolof language) won 125 of 165 seats but fell short of winning the popular vote. Twelve other parties hold seats in the national assembly, including the Coalition gagnante Wattu Senegal (19 seats), Manko Taxawu Sénégal (7), and Parti de l’unité et du rassemblement (3). The country’s next presidential elections are due to be held in February 2019.

    Although Senegal has largely been sheltered from regional security shocks, activism by terrorist groups in neighboring countries and the higher number of radicals entering the country are both factors that risk fueling instability.

    Economic Overview

    After decades of very modest growth, the Government of Senegal adopted the Plan Senegal Emergent (PSE) in 2014. The development plan is designed to get Senegal out of a cycle of low-growth and weak poverty reduction. Preliminary figures put Senegal’s economic growth at 6.8 percent by 2017—the third year in a row of a growth rate of over 6 percent. Implementation of the plan, which boosted public investment and promoted private sector activity, helps explain this, plus a growth-conducive macroeconomic framework and favorable exogenous conditions (good weather, relatively low oil prices). Despite high growth, inflation remains low and under control.

    The primary sector of the economy is the most dynamic, growing at over 7% (due particularly to agriculture), but the secondary sector is picking up and expected to take the lead in a few years’ time. On the demand side, exports and total investment have been the fastest growing components. Senegal’s macroeconomic framework remains solid, though, small cracks are emerging, underscored by rising debt levels and liquidity constraints. So, although the fiscal deficit has fallen—from 4.2 percent of GDP in 2016 to 3.7 percent in 2017—a large investment program, rising energy prices (that increase energy subsidies while reducing revenues from frozen gasoline prices), and Treasury operations that have financed deficits in other public entities are all placing pressure on the fiscal balance. In consequence, the government delayed some payments to suppliers in 2017. Public debt has also continued to increase, though at a slower pace, to 60.8 percent of GDP in 2017, while debt servicing increased from 24 to 30 percent of government revenues between 2014 and 2017. Nonetheless, according to the latest IMF–WB Debt Sustainability Analysis, public debt remains at low risk of distress; however, this may be revised if debt indicators worsen.

    On the external front, debt was estimated at 62 percent of GDP in 2017, and the current account deficit worsened from 5.4 percent of GDP in 2016 to 7.9 percent in 2017, due to rises in imports of oil and capital goods while exports expanded less rapidly.

    Meanwhile, the government continues to implement the PSE, or national development plan, and its related reforms. To maintain high growth, these include investment projects in energy, transport infrastructure, and agriculture, and other in-depth reforms to attract further private investment. But, despite the adoption of reforms for sectors like energy, agriculture, and ICT, progress has been significantly slower in implementing them, something that could undermine the sustainability of economic growth.

    Medium-Term Outlook

    Senegal's medium-term economic prospects will remain positive for as long as its new structural reforms are sustained and deepened, and the external environment remains benign. Economic growth is projected to stay at 6.8 percent for 2018. Senegal’s blueprint for becoming a middle-income country sets targets of over 7 percent growth in following years, though rising energy prices and other fiscal and external pressures may prevent this. To accelerate growth, Senegal will need all its economic drivers pointing in the same direction at the same time. This means more reforms to resolve bottlenecks in productivity and competitiveness; sustaining a credible fiscal policy and avoiding currency overvaluation; and putting the country in a position to reap the benefits of a positive international environment.

    Social Context

    Although still high, poverty appears to have fallen in recent years. A 2011 survey (the most recent) calculated the poverty rate at 47 percent, but poverty appears to have fallen by 4 to 7 percent since due to good economic growth. Senegal ranked 162 of 188 countries in the global 2017 Human Development Index (based on 2015 data), but has one of the largest safety net programs in Africa, covering 30 percent of its poorest households. It has made progress on child health, mostly by addressing malaria and chronic malnutrition (stunting), which at 17 percent is now the lowest in continental sub-Saharan Africa. Not as much progress has been made in maternal, neonatal, reproductive, and adolescent health, where key indicators are lagging behind. A barrier to improvement, especially among the poorest Senegalese, is the relatively high cost of healthcare. In 2013, Senegal launched its Universal Health Insurance program to improve equity in access to health services, especially among households in the informal and rural sectors. The coverage rate is slowly increasing but remains far from the government’s target of 75 percent of the population by the end of 2017.

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • World Bank Group Engagement in Senegal

    As of the end of January 2018, the active portfolio for Senegal comprised 20 national IDA investment projects, totaling $1.43 billion (43% disbursed), and 10 regional IDA operations with $384.74 million in commitments (34.15% disbursed). The WB portfolio for Senegal typically disburses strongly; the FY17 end disbursement ratio was 24 percent.

    The International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) current committed portfolio in Senegal was $155.4 million, while the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency’s (MIGA) gross exposure in Senegal was $108.6 million. 

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • The World Bank Group has contributed to Senegal’s development performance in the following sectors:

    Water and Sanitation

    The World Bank has supported Senegal for nearly two decades in the water and sanitation sector through three successive projects: the Water Sector Project, the Long Term Water Sector Project (PELT), the Water and Sanitation Millennium Project (PEPAM), and the ongoing Senegal Urban Water and Sanitation Project. Interventions have yielded the following results: in urban areas, some 206,160 persons gained access to piped water and 82,260 to improved sanitation and, as of April 2017, about 95,000 more gained access to improved water services. About 13% of the credit has been disbursed, consistent with initial projections. In rural areas, some 172,370 people have gained access to safe drinking water, while 193,730 additional people have gained access to improved sanitation services.

    Agriculture

    The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP), a regional project involving 13 countries, has yielded the following results in Senegal: as many as 423,000 agricultural producers and processors benefited from the development, dissemination, and adoption of improved agricultural technologies from 2012 to 2015, of which 38% were women. WAAPP enabled the agricultural research needed to generate 14 new, high-yielding, early maturing, drought-resistant varieties of millet, sorghum, and cowpeas for climate-smart agriculture. It upgraded core facilities, equipment, and the human capacity of the National Center of Specialization, and introduced an important fellowship program for young agricultural researchers, resulting in 170 fellowships—99 for PhDs and 71 for Masters. The program seeks to develop the scientific careers of young researchers, fill gaps in some research field areas, and replace researchers who are retiring. An E-subsidy platform was developed to improve the distribution of subsidized inputs; about 800,000 farmers have registered with it so far, out of a goal of one million.

    Social Protection

    The Senegal Safety Net project has registered 442,019 households in the Unique National Registry (about 30 percent of the population), and the National Cash Transfer Program (Programme National de Bourses de Sécurité Familiale) has reached its final target of about 300,000 beneficiary households (about 20 percent of the population). 

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • Most bilateral and multilateral development agencies have an active presence in Senegal. Progress has been made to streamline development assistance, in keeping with the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda.

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

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LENDING

Senegal: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
Corniche Ouest X
Rue Léon Gontran Damas
Dakar, Senegal
+221-33-859-41-00
For general information and inquiries
Mademba Ndiaye
Sr. Communications Officer
+221-33-859-4140
mademba@worldbank.org
For project-related issues and complaints
senegalalert@worldbank.org